Yellowstone National Park is a natural wonder, an ecological marvel, and a must-visit destination for any traveler to the Western United States. But at 2.2 million acres, taking on Yellowstone can be a daunting task.
Fortunately, Wydaho Property Management has you covered. We’ve compiled this list of five must-see sights for your next trip to the park. Though it is far from definitive, and people should see as much of the park as they can, see these five things and you’ll feel as though you’ve truly experienced Yellowstone.
What list of Yellowstone sights could be complete without Old Faithful? Named for the reliability of its eruptions, Old Faithful is the most iconic geyser at the park. Its discovery in 1870 is also a big reason the park was eventually founded in 1872. Old Faithful erupts every 90 minutes or so, so there is a good chance you’ll get to see it in action. But word to the wise — Old Faithful is very popular and parking can be tough to come by. Get there early if seeing Old Faithful erupt is essential to you.
One of the park’s smallest geothermal areas, and thus one of the easiest to miss, the West Thumb Geyser Basin is a wildlife hub. Show up at the right time (typically early in the morning) and you are likely to see bison, elk, and bears. But even if the animals aren’t present, you’ll still enjoy a walk along the lakeshore and views of incredible thermal features, including Abyss Pool, Yellowstone’s deepest hydrothermal pool.
Enter Yellowstone from the West Entrance — the entrance most easily accessible from any of our managed properties — and the Fountain Paint Pots are one of the first sights you are likely to see. You will not be disappointed.
You will see a variety of hydrothermal features representing each type of thermal feature in the park. The park categorizes them in one of two ways — those with a great deal of water (hot springs and geysers) and those with limited water (mudpots and fumaroles). No two features in this section of the park are alike, offering a diverse experience to introduce you to the park.
The Upper Geyser Basin contains 25% of the world’s geysers. That fact alone makes it a must-see feature of Yellowstone. But the vivid colors of the pools and the spectacular number of geysers — of all shapes and sizes — only enhances the appeal of this area.
Take care to treat the basin with respect — the famous Morning Glory Pool has been dubbed “Fading Glory” as its vibrant colors have been muted by litter. Preserving the natural beauty of sights like this is essential to the longevity of Yellowstone.
Some sights are so beautiful, so staggering that no amount of picture or video can prepare you for their majesty. Grand Prismatic Spring would be such a sight.
Featuring a kaleidoscopic array of colors spread across an area larger than a football field, Grand Prismatic is breathtaking. Informative signs along the wheelchair-accessible route explain how bacteria have created the layers of colors, offering an experience as educational as it is visceral.
Grand Prismatic is, unsurprisingly, extremely popular. It is one of the park’s busiest areas. So be prepared as parking will be tough to find and you’ll likely be in a line all the way up to Grand Prismatic. Just know that the effort is more than worth it.
If, after reading this guide, Yellowstone still intimidates you, there are other resources out there. The National Park Service maintains a robust set of online resources, including maps and guides. There is also an app called GyPSy, which sells narrated audio tours available right on your phone. The Yellowstone tour is $9.99, but you can purchase in a bundle with Grand Teton National Park for $14.99 as well.
Rest assured, there is no wrong way to explore Yellowstone National Park. It is a national treasure and every inch of it is worth seeing. But hopefully this guide helps kickstart your plans for adventuring America’s first national park.